SolidFire raises $82M to build its business around scale-out flash storage

SolidFire, a flash storage vendor based in Boulder, Colorado, has raised an $82 million series D round of venture capital. Greenspring Associates led the round along with “a major sovereign wealth fund,” according to a company press release. Existing investors NEA, Novak Biddle, Samsung Ventures and Valhalla Partners also contributed to the round, which brings SolidFire’s total investment to $150 million since launching in 2010.

The company is one of a handful of flash storage startups that have seen success in the past few years as companies look to boost performance on applications that tend to lag on hard disks. Conventional wisdom says databases and virtual desktop environments are ideal use cases for flash storage arrays, in some cases splitting the difference between slow-but-cheap hard disks and fast-but-expensive RAM.

Structure 2011: Vanessa Alvarez – Analyst, Forrester Research; Val Bercovici – Sr. Director, Office of the CTO, NetApp; Dheeraj Pandey – CEO, Nutanix; Andres Rodriguez – Founder and CEO, Nasuni; Dave Wright – CEO, SolidFire

Dave Wright, SolidFire CEO (far right) at Structure 2011.

[company]SolidFire[/company] initially staked its claim as the flash vendor building systems designed for service providers that want to offer them as a service, but has since backed off that limited approach. It still includes service providers among its target customers and use cases, but also pitches a scale-out flash approach usable by any company that might want to store terabytes or even petabytes of data on flash memory.

The new investment comes at what is, presumably, a good time for SolidFire as it considers options for its future. Although there have been some big flash acquisitions over the past couple years, they have usually been of earlier-stage companies. The public markets have been a bit trickier: [company]Violin Memory[/company] had a 2013 IPO marred by scandal; [company]Nimble Storage[/company] is trading down significantly after a strong start; and [company]Pure Storage[/company], which has raised nearly $500 million in capital, appears to be postponing what was once an impending IPO.